Skip to Content for Porch Potty Blog

Archive for March, 2011

Celebrations, Canines, and Cups

Mar 30, 2011

photoMost of us enjoy an alcoholic drink every once in a while. We all know how alcohol affects our body, but its effects on our canine companions are different because of their lower body weight.

Alcohol poisoning takes place when a dog drinks 5-8 ml of alcohol per kilo of body weight. We’re not talking about ml of whiskey or wine, but ml of alcohol. Let’s do some math here. Whiskey may contain up to 70 percent alcohol, which means that 30 ml contains 21 ml of actual alcohol. That’s more than enough to severely poison a 3-4 kg Chihuahua. Wine is about 10 percent alcohol and beer is around 5 percent alcohol.

While canines may not voluntarily drink straight spirits, they may lap them if mixed with soda. Moreover, the creamy liqueurs available today can be very appealing to a dog.

Bread dough is a less common cause of alcohol poisoning. However, if a dog consumes bread dough, alcohol forms due to fermentation in the gastrointestinal tract. In January 2008, a 40 kg Labrador Retriever in Austria was hospitalized. He was staggering, vomiting, and smelled like a brewery. He hadn’t raided his owner’s bar fridge, but his blood alcohol level was 1.6 mg per 100 ml because he had eaten half a kilogram of fresh yeast dough. The dough had fermented in his stomach, producing alcohol and symptoms of poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning symptoms are quite unclear, as they can be characteristic of many illnesses. However, your dog will probably smell like alcohol. Depending on how much food is in the stomach, symptoms manifest within an hour and aren’t too different from those of a drunk person – sluggish responses, unsteady on the feet, and either depression or excitement. Your dog can stay like this for a day or two, but if he has drunk enough, his breathing will slow down and it can even lead to a heart attack or coma and cardiac arrest.

Early treatment of alcohol poisoning usually brings positive results. Treatment is supportive and non-specific. Activated charcoal can prevent more alcohol absorption and an intravenous drip rehydrates and encourages the excretion of alcohol.

Alcohol poisoning in canines is a completely avoidable illness. Keep your alcoholic drinks out of your dog’s reach and don’t give him any alcohol “just for fun”. If you like making breads and doughs, don’t let him in the kitchen.

Bookmark and Share

Be Cautious At Bath Time With Your Pooch

Mar 28, 2011

photoBath time should be a fun time for both you and your pooch. Unfortunately, not all dogs appreciate their owner’s good intentions or are aware of the fact that they stink and need some washing. Hence, try not to make bath time too stressful for you and your dog. Also expect to get very, very wet.

When bathing your dog, avoid washing his head and ears first because he’ll want to shake them right away and you’ll get soaked, so leave those last. In addition, be careful not to get too much water in his ears to avoid infections. Symptoms of an ear infection are regular discharge and shaking of the head.

How often you bathe your pooch actually depends on his breed. If he’s a very hairy type such as a Cocker Spaniel, then he should be bathed once every six to eight weeks. Keep in mind though that regardless of breed, washing a dog too frequently will cause his skin and coat to lose their protective character.

It’s probably not a good idea to bathe any dog too often because their sense of identity comes from their smell and too much washing can result in distress and confusion. Of course, there will be exceptions to the rule, such as when your pet makes a mess due to possible digestive issues or when he has rolled around in goodness knows what and noses from a mile away can smell him.

Avoid soaps that are intended for human use as the ingredients aren’t suitable for canines. Always use products that are made for dogs and practice caution when trying something new.

If you’ll be washing your dog in the bathtub, have everything (shampoo, conditioner, towels) in one place and ready before you begin. You don’t want to leave your pet and go to another room because you forgot the towels. You know very well that when you return, he’ll be out of the tub and the floor and walls will be wet. Don’t make it difficult for yourself!

Some dogs love to be sprayed with water in the garden especially on hot summer days, and many enjoy swimming in pools or natural bodies of water, but somehow they seem to dislike getting in a bathtub. So good luck to you!

Bookmark and Share

Rain, Rain, Go Away – Exercise Another Day?

Mar 25, 2011

photoWhile most people do care if it’s raining, some don’t. And while most dogs don’t care if it’s raining, some do!

Exercising in the rain can be enjoyable and feel nice. However, there are some things you should take into account to make the session safe and fun for both you and your canine companion.

* Avoid roadways. Sometimes people drive crazy in wet weather. You can also get splashed when cars go over puddles. Stick to shaded trails where there are trees to protect you and your pooch from the rain.

* Wet feet are more prone to blisters, so consider purchasing some moisture wicking socks. Other items that will help keep you drier are waterproof shirts, shorts, and lightweight jackets.

* Don’t forget about your dog! If he’s not too keen on being in the rain, you may want to get a doggy raincoat for him. That’s right, they make them and in different styles and colors, too. Also, if your pooch won’t go out to relieve himself during rainy weather, a doggy raincoat may be worth the investment.

* If there are any signs of thunder and/or lightning, then it’s time to go back home. Getting struck by lightning may be rare but it does happen. Don’t take a chance. Also, a lot of dogs are scared by the sound of thunder.

* Have a towel ready by the door for when you return to your home. Dry your dog off right away, unless you want him to run around the house dripping puddles everywhere.

Walking and running in the rain is refreshing and can be plenty of fun if you’re prepared! My own dog loves playing in the rain and getting muddy and wet. He does, however, hate the bath that follows.

Bookmark and Share

New Puppy Parents- It’s National Puppy Day!

Mar 23, 2011

photoMarch 23rd is National Puppy Day. Not only is this a day to celebrate the unconditional love and magic that puppies bring into our lives, it’s also an opportunity to help save orphaned pups worldwide and educate the public about puppy mills and pet stores.

National Puppy Day was founded in 2006 by animal behaviorist, pet lifestyle expert, and author Colleen Paige, who also founded National Dog Day and National Cat Day. In recognition of National Puppy Day, Holistic Select staff veterinarian Dr. Al Townshend shares five things every new puppy parent should know to nurture their growing dog properly.

  1. Selecting the right name for your puppy is part of his sound development. Don’t choose names that sound like commands. For example, “Joe” might be mistaken for “no”. Also, make sure the name is something you’ll be comfortable calling out in public.
  2. Nutritional needs can vary greatly among breeds, particularly with larger dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, and St. Bernards. According to Dr. Townshend, controlled growth is important for large breed puppies. “These breeds actually need fewer calories per pound than smaller breeds… Weight gain that comes too quickly can stress developing bones, and may lead to other disorders.”
  3. Nourish your pup’s young, developing brain. Be sure to include DHA in his diet. DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid that is essential to the development of visual function and nervous tissue in canines. “…DHA may promote brain and overall good health in animals of all ages,” Dr. Townshend says.
  4. Exercise is a must in a puppy’s holistic lifestyle. The activity doesn’t have to be too strenuous for it to be beneficial, but exercise should be performed on a regular basis. Schedule some time each day dedicated to physical activity for your pet. This gives him something to look forward to, exercises his brain, and also strengthens his bond with you.
  5. New puppy parents should practice discipline as well, and refrain from giving too many snacks. “People snacks” usually don’t meet a pet’s nutritional needs, can unbalance a previously balanced diet, and may have harmful side effects.
Bookmark and Share

Caring For Your Pup’s Pads

Mar 21, 2011

photoYour dog’s paw pads absorb the shock and pressure on his joints from standing and moving around. The paws’ function makes them prone to injury; thus, paw care should be included in your dog’s regular care routine.

Common paw injuries include lacerations, abrasions, punctures, or burns and blisters to the pad; dry, cracked pads; and foreign objects stuck between the toes. Symptoms of a paw injury are limping; bleeding; discoloration of the pad (which can be difficult to spot if the pad is a dark color); keeping the injured paw off the ground; and excessive chewing and/or licking of the paw.

If you see your dog showing any of these symptoms, then you’ll want to determine the cause of the problem. Be very careful when handling an injured dog; even the gentlest animal can bite if he’s in pain and feels threatened by your touching him. Placing a muzzle on your dog is a good way to protect yourself from a bite.

Abrasions, Lacerations, and Punctures

There are several blood vessels in your dog’s paw pads, so even a superficial cut can bleed a lot. The bleeding should stop quite soon after you’ve treated the wound. If it doesn’t, you should contact your vet.

For abrasions and small cuts, clean the wound with an antibacterial wash such as chlorhexidine diluted with water. Wrap the paw with a light bandage. It’s a good idea to have your dog wear an Elizabethan collar for a few days to keep him from licking and chewing at the bandage.

The bandage will become moist after a couple of days since your dog sweats through his paw pads. Moist bandages delay healing and can lead to infection, so change the bandage every two or three days.

The cut should heal in a few days depending on how deep it is. If it doesn’t and you’re not sure how to proceed, contact your vet.

If you’re dealing with a deep paw laceration, take your dog to your vet. He will stitch up the pad, bandage it, and maybe apply a splint to keep the cut from opening again.

Burns and Blisters

Your dog’s paw pads can easily burn and blister from walking on a hot surface. An indication of a burned and blistered pad is a loose flap or a red, ulcerated patch.

Apply an antibacterial wash to the affected area and cover the paw with a bandage until the pad is healed. If your dog has a loose flap of pad, you’ll have to wait for it to come off or you can ask your vet to trim it off.

Dry, Cracked Pads

Cracked pads are prone to collecting dust and debris, which can cause further injury. You can moisturize your dog’s pads with a special cream. Avoid using products made for humans as they tend to soften the pads too much, making them vulnerable to injury.

Foreign Objects Between the Toes

The most common culprits are small stones, burrs, pieces of glass, dried mud, and your dog’s matted fur. Trim matted fur and remove foreign objects with a pair of tweezers.

Always contact your vet if you’re not comfortable with treating an injury yourself, you’re not sure about the cause of the injury, the wound doesn’t seem to be healing, or your dog’s paw becomes swollen.

Reduce the risk of a paw pad injury by keeping your home and yard free of sharp objects. Be alert when you’re outside so you can avoid hazards such as broken glass and other debris. Also refrain from letting your dog walk on hot pavement in the summer, road salt in the winter, and graveled areas for long periods. If you won’t walk barefoot on a certain surface, don’t make your dog do so.

Bookmark and Share

You and Your Dog’s Weight

Mar 18, 2011

photoWeight problems are not uncommon in our canine companions, and dog owners usually find it difficult to keep their overweight pets in shape. Modern feeding methods can sometimes add extra weight, as well as the many misconceptions owners have about how much and how often they should feed their dogs.

First, you have to consider how much food your pet actually requires. To fully comprehend our canine friends’ needs, we have to look at how wild dogs survive and what they eat.

In the wild, dogs live on rabbits, rodents, berries, and by scavenging. They only eat once a day on average, sometimes two to three days between meals. Domestic dogs’ systems are built on this same pattern of eating.

If we feed our dogs every day, they will store fat for lean times. However, if there is no lean time, they will only get fatter and fatter. Hence, feeding them two to three times a day will lead to obesity.

An adult dog needs only one average size meal per day, and ideally should completely abstain from food one day per week to help burn excess fat. Canines should not be given sweets as these will only increase their risk of obesity.

Grown dogs should not be given cow’s milk, as it is far too rich and can cause gastric issues. However, if you would still like to give your dog some milk, go for the special brands of dog milk, which can be bought at supermarkets. If your pet is overweight, be aware of how much you give him.

Several folks believe that desexing causes obesity in dogs. This is not completely true, since it is only the animal’s interest in food that increases after desexing. Owners of desexed canines should keep their pets’ food intake the same as before. Instead, you can offer raw bones, which will satisfy even the hungriest dog without adding any fat.

Various brands of diet dog food, which can help your pooch lose weight, are also available. Bear in mind that dogs that are the right weight tend to live longer and have a more active and enjoyable life.

Bookmark and Share

What is Salmon Poisoning Disease?

Mar 16, 2011

photoA rickettsial organism is a parasite that infects worms or snails which are consumed by salmonoid fish. The fish then becomes the secondary host and only seems to affect dogs and not humans. While transmission by respiratory channels is uncommon, it’s possible that just licking the blood of a dead fish on the shore can lead to salmon poisoning disease (SPD).

SPD is not specific to any breed, age, or gender, and dogs that survive the disease become immune to it. How can you identify salmon poisoning disease? According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, here are the symptoms:

* Sudden onset of symptoms five to seven days after eating fish.
* Early symptoms include lack of appetite and sluggishness.
* Temperature peaks between 104-107.6 degrees Fahrenheit during the first two days then slowly returns to normal.
* Onset of constant vomiting by the fourth day.
* Onset of bloody diarrhea a few days after vomiting begins. The diarrhea is usually a bright yellow color.

If left untreated, death usually occurs within fourteen days of consuming the infected fish. Ninety percent of dogs with symptoms die if they’re not treated. Fortunately, salmon poisoning disease is treatable if it’s detected in time. The illness can be diagnosed with a fecal sample or a needle sample of a swollen lymph node.

How is SPD treated?

Treatment of salmon poisoning disease is relatively simple. Your vet will prescribe an antibiotic and a wormer. The antibiotic eliminates the rickettsial organisms that cause the illness while the wormer kills the parasite. Intravenous fluid is also provided if the animal is dehydrated. Most dogs improve dramatically within two days of treatment.

How can SPD be prevented?

Don’t let your dog catch or eat raw or cold processed salmonoid fish of any kind, as even cold processing will not get rid of the pathogen. If you choose to feed your dog salmonoids, see to it that the fish is cooked or pressure canned. This will save him from suffering SPD and save you from a veterinary bill. Observe your pet closely after any trip to make sure he is healthy.

Bookmark and Share

How to Create a Safe Environment for Your Pets

Mar 14, 2011

photoNational Poison Prevention Week, which falls on the third week of March each year, is taking place from the 20th to the 26th this year. To commemorate this event, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals/National Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA/NAPCC) is reminding pet owners about the importance of poison safety. Here are some tips on creating a poison-free environment for pets:

* Never let your pets access the areas wherein cleaning agents are being used or stored. Some cleaning agents may cause mild stomach upset, while others can severely burn the tongue, mouth, and stomach.

* Keep all pesticides, medications, and cleaners in a secured location.

* See to it that your pets do not enter areas wherein house sprays or insecticidal foggers have been applied for the period specified on the label.

* Most baits have ingredients that can attract your companion animals. When using baits or traps, place them in areas that are inaccessible to your pets.

* Consult your vet before purchasing a flea product, especially when the animal is ill, debilitated, or pregnant.

* Store all prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of your pets’ reach, preferably in closed cabinets. Vitamins, diet pills, antidepressants, and pain killers are some examples of human medications that can be lethal to animals, even in small doses.

* Never leave chocolate out in the open.

* If you’re not sure about the correct usage of a product, contact the manufacturer and/or your vet for directions.

* Certain plants can be fatal to animals if ingested, e.g. castor bean, oleander, azalea, sago palm, yew, and Easter lily (cats only). Be aware of the plants in your home and yard.

* Many common household items can be fatal to pets, including coffee grounds, mothballs, fabric softener sheets, cigarettes, potpourri oils, hand and foot warmers, and dishwashing detergent.

* Keep automotive products such as oil, gasoline, and antifreeze in areas that are inaccessible to your companion animals.

* Never give your pets medication unless instructed to do so by a vet. Several medications that are safe for humans can be deadly for animals.

* Never use “for dogs only” products on cats and vice versa.

* Always follow directions and read the entire label before using a product on your pet or in your home.

Bookmark and Share

Spring Break Travel Tips

Mar 11, 2011

photoDeciding to travel with your pooch can seem overwhelming at first. And with spring break just around the corner, you may instinctively reach for the phone to call the dog sitter. However, you don’t have to leave your pet at home, as traveling with your dog is not as complicated as you think.

Because more and more people are traveling with their pets, several hotels and airlines have become more pet-friendly by implementing small changes such as using hardwood floors instead of carpet. Though, as you would expect, these changes come with a price tag.

According to the New York Daily News, pet owners have to spend somewhere between $30 and $150 per night or per stay. Of course, you’re responsible for any damages, too. As for flying with your pooch, you can expect to fork out $75 to $150 each way for a small dog, i.e. less than 15 pounds, in the cabin. Fees are higher for larger canines since they need to be checked in.

If you’ve made the decision to bring your dog with you on spring break or summer vacation, here are three important tips you should remember when you travel together.

1. Visit your vet. Before you leave, it’s a good idea to go to the vet to make sure that your dog is in good shape. Get all the checkups, vaccines, and pet meds your dog will need before and during your trip.

2. ID your dog. Make sure you pet always has proper identification, whether it’s a microchip, dog tags, or even just a collar with your name, address, and phone number.

3. Take breaks, and often. And I’m not just referring to bathroom breaks. Your pooch needs to stretch his legs as much as you do. This is especially important if you’re traveling in hot weather. Take frequent breaks to avoid muscle aches and to see to it that your dog stays hydrated.

With these three tips in mind, it’s time to pack your bags and your dog’s toys and treats. Get ready to enjoy a fun spring break with your four-legged best friend!

Bookmark and Share

Easter Can Be Fun For Your Furry Family Members

Mar 9, 2011

photoPlanning an Easter egg hunt for your beloved canine friend can be a lot of fun, whether you celebrate Easter or not. And you don’t have to reserve this activity for that one Sunday only – it’s something you can do any time of the year, with just as enjoyable results! After all, what matters to your dog is that he’s having fun, not what day of the year it is.

Why is an Easter egg hunt for my dog a good idea? Isn’t this for kids (and some adults) only?

It’s not all about fun and games. Hunting down food or “Easter eggs” in the grass appeals to your pooch’s natural instincts to look for food. Plus it’s a great photo opportunity! Just think of all the wonderful memories you’ll be able to capture and look back on later.

So just as if you were hiding Easter eggs for children, you’ll want to place the goodies where they’re out of plain sight but no so concealed that it’s impossible to find them. You wouldn’t want to frustrate your dog or yourself!

Now I’m sure you’re already getting ideas on what items you can hide for your pet’s Easter egg hunt. Still, here are some suggestions:

* Small squares of cheese.
* Small treats such as dog biscuits.
* Little pieces of hot dog or other meat like chicken breast.
* Boiled eggs. You’ll want to limit the number of eggs per dog to just one or two. Be sure you know how many eggs you’ve hidden – you definitely don’t want your dog finding and eating one of the eggs a week later.
* A new dog toy.
* A handful of kibble. Sprinkle this around your lawn. It will take your pooch a little longer to locate and consume the kibble, making the hunt a bit more challenging.

Remember not to hide more than what your dog would normally eat at a meal. And most importantly, be sure you do not include traditional Easter goodies made of chocolate. Keep in mind that chocolate is toxic for canines!

With that said, have your camera ready and let the hunt begin!

Bookmark and Share